This morning New Zealander Robert Martin was elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN headquarters in New York.
“Robert’s election is a milestone achievement for all people with disabilities, he is the first person with a learning disability to stand for and be elected to a UN Committee,” said New Zealand Disabilities Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson.
“Robert Martin hasn’t just smashed through a glass ceiling, he’s smashed through the ceiling and walls of institutions that locked him away for most of his early years. Every New Zealander can be proud of his incredible achievement today.”
A prominent disability rights advocate, Robert was nominated by the New Zealand government to the Committee that is comprised of 18 independent disability experts. The panel monitors how well countries are implementing the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities. Eighteen candidates from around the world are vying for nine positions.
“Robert played a significant role in the development of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and at times was the only representative of people with intellectual/ learning disabilities,” said Mr Gibson.
“Some of his contributions to the Convention are providing hope for people like him, the otherwise most forgotten members of our communities, locked away in institutions around the world.”
“Robert has dedicated his life advocating for the rights of people with learning disabilities to participate in their communities instead of being locked away in institutions.”